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(Nearly) Total Eclipse of the Sun


For Immediate Release

5 November 2012

(Nearly) Total Eclipse of the Heart Sun

A solar eclipse can be one of the most dramatic of celestial events with the sky going completely black if you’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Yet it can be very difficult and potentially dangerous to observe. An eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon are perfectly aligned so that the Moon crosses the Sun’s disc from our viewpoint here on Earth.

A total solar eclipse requires the Moon to fully cover the Sun’s disc and although this “eclipse path” may be thousands of kilometres long it is only a maximum of 250km wide.

On 14 November, viewers in the region around Cairns, in Northern Australia will be treated to a spectacular early morning total eclipse. The eclipse path falls 1200 km north of New Zealand and for us we only see a partial eclipse. Further north from Wellington the eclipse will start earlier and a greater portion of the Sun’s disc is covered, whilst further south less of the Sun will be covered.

For Wellington the eclipse starts at 9:26 am on the 14th of November as the Moon first moves on to the Sun’s disc. Maximum eclipse is at 10:34 am when the Moon will cover about 76% of the Sun, the eclipse will end at 11:47 am, when the Moon moves off the Sun’s disc.

At Carter Observatory we’ll be marking the eclipse with public observing and astronomers on hand to explain the event. Our Thomas Cooke telescope will be open and we’ll be streaming live from our solar telescope into the OMV Exploration room. We’ll have several smaller scopes set up outside too, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to view the event.

Our first planetarium show that day will be at 12.30pm. Prior to that, we will offer exhibition only tickets at $10 adult / $4 children / $8 concessions / free to our Star Pass members.

It’s important that you NEVER look at the Sun with the naked eye! Carter is selling special solar glasses for $4 per pair that will allow people to safely view this eclipse.

“Such as substantial solar eclipse in our own backyard is a very special event”, says Dr Claire Bretherton, Education and Public Programmes Manager. “We hope Wellingtonians will join us to observe this rare eclipse, and to learn more about our place in the Solar System”, she says.

For the most up to date information on what’s going on at Carter Observatory, check out the Facebook page ( or website ( or give the team a call on 04 910 3140.


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